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Discuss arguments for existence of God and faith in general. Any aspect of any orientation toward religion/spirituality, as long as it is based upon a positive open to other people attitude.

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check this out

Post by Metacrock » Fri May 23, 2008 7:48 pm

http://godpart.com/html/the_premise.html

Essentially, what I'm suggesting is that humans are innately "hard-wired" to perceive a spiritual reality. We are "hard-wired" to believe in forces that transcend the limitations of this, our physical reality. Most controversial of all, if what I'm suggesting is true, it would imply that God is not necessarily something that exists "out there," beyond and independent of us, but rather as the product of an inherited perception, the manifestation of an evolutionary adaptation that exists within the human brain. And why would our species have evolved such a seemingly abstract trait? -In order to enable us to deal with our species' unique and otherwise debilitating awareness of death.
this is Matthew Alper in the God part of the brian. All these major atheists such as Wilson (EO) herald this book as disproff of religion (or so it seems, they dont' say it out right) but this is exactly what i say in two of my God arguments.

this proves my religious instinct argument and the God Pod argument.

not only this but


now look at this:

For every physical characteristic that is universal to a species, there must exist some gene or set of genes responsible for the emergence of that particular trait. For example, the fact that all cats possess whiskers means that somewhere within a cat's chromosomes there must exist "whisker" genes. Of our own species, that all humans possess a nose in the middle of our face means that somewhere within our chromosomes there must exist "nose" genes that instruct our emerging bodies to develop one in that very place. It's not, for instance, as if a nose can develop anywhere on one's body, only by mere coincidence, it always ends up on our face. Apparently, humans are genetically "hard-wired" to develop in a very specific and particular way.

that is the very exact same aruement I've made for 10 years on the insnct argument and theists told me I was an idiot and I didn't know anything about science.

the only difference here is he thinks this disproves religion I think it proves it.
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Re: check this out

Post by sgttomas » Mon Jun 02, 2008 3:46 am

...indeed, the argument could be thrust that such religion genes are not only useful for dealing with death (which may have been the prime selective pressure) but also for perceiving and dealing with other aspects of reality that don't have explicit physical characteristics or clear boundaries. Since all perception of reality happens in our brains, I'm not sure how one may discriminate that some forms of "out there" phenomena have been disproved by identifying the internalization?

Peace,
-sgttomas
Prophet Muhammad (God send peace and blessings upon him) is reported to have said, "God says 'I am as My servant thinks I am' " ~ Sahih Al-Bukhari, Vol 9 #502 (Chapter 93, "Oneness of God")

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Re: check this out

Post by KR Wordgazer » Mon Jun 02, 2008 2:56 pm

Here are some random thoughts I have typed up regarding this whole "God Pod" idea. It's partly a reaction to the Alper article linked in the opening post, but mostly consists of my reactions to Metacrock's recent blog on the subject-- not necessarily what I thought Metacrock was saying, but also what some of the people he was quoting appeared to be saying (and also some of the implications of some of the statements).

You might want to read his blog first: it's here.

Anyway, here goes:

I don’t think “brain creates mind” in the sense that all mind is, is a construct of the brain, vanishing when the brain dies. The liver creates blood, but blood is a separate thing from the liver, not just a construct of the complexity of the liver. You can take blood out of the body and will still be blood– it will not vanish because the liver isn’t there any more. Even so with near-death experiences– brain activity ceases, but the person’s mind does not.

I’m not saying mind is a substance like blood is. But mind is more than just activity in the brain.

Neither is consciousness of the metaphysical merely a more complex form of understanding that doors can have X’s on them and still be doors. My cats would not be phased by the sudden presence of an X on a door. They would still scratch at it and meow to be let through! I don’t see what they’re doing as “leaps of faith,” such that when we believe in God we’re just making a bigger “leap of faith.” Naturalists would have us believe our need for meaning is simply a more complex form of that understanding that knows what a door is and what it’s used for.

But the need for meaning is something more than this. The need for meaning, the need for God, is the need for something we cannot create for ourselves (like a door). We know by common sense that this sort of thing is bigger than our ability to make it– that if we have to make it, it doesn’t really exist but is merely imagination. If our brains are, in fact, hard-wired to need a transcendent Source of meaning, and there is none– then we are of all creatures in the universe most to be pitied. We have evolved to need something that does not exist, something we cannot create for ourselves and still trust in it– something, in fact, that we can never truly have. No other creature that we know of suffers this fate. Animals need food, and there is food, they need to breathe, and there is air, they need to procreate, and there is sex. But we need God, meaning, transcendence– and there is none. How could this have happened?

I feel that the idea that just because we can pinpoint what happens in the brain when something stimulates it, means there is no external stimulus, is nonsense– as Metacrock said, the fact that parts of an animal’s brain light up when it smells food, doesn’t mean there’s no food to be smelled!

I have always thought of madness as a state where the mind is separated, somehow, from reality– that the constructs we make in our minds of what reality is, no longer correspond with what is actually going on. If the metaphysical is not reality, if there is nothing actually there, but we are hardwired to construct it anyway– then evolution has in the end produced a species that is collectively and irrevocably mad.

The whole idea that we developed this way in order to help deal with the fact that we are able to understand and anticipate the finality of death– that’s just another way of saying that God is an explanation for something. We die, we want to not die and continue, so we create an afterlife, and a God to watch over it. That still doesn’t explain what the sense of the numinous is.

And it doesn't, in the end, prove Alper's point. If all our need for the spiritual is merely a coping reaction for awareness of death-- well, our minds are also capable of understanding that this might be all it is; that it might not be real. It seems to me that our minds developed the ability to doubt right along with the ability to believe. You would think evolution would resist this short-circuit of its coping mechanism, by hard-wiring us not to doubt, wouldn't you?

On the other hand, if a Creator actually did this, the Creator might have good reasons to allow doubt and skepticism as one of our choices.
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Re: check this out

Post by sgttomas » Mon Jun 02, 2008 4:52 pm

KR Wordgazer wrote:I don’t think “brain creates mind” in the sense that all mind is, is a construct of the brain, vanishing when the brain dies. The liver creates blood, but blood is a separate thing from the liver, not just a construct of the complexity of the liver. You can take blood out of the body and will still be blood– it will not vanish because the liver isn’t there any more. Even so with near-death experiences– brain activity ceases, but the person’s mind does not.

I’m not saying mind is a substance like blood is. But mind is more than just activity in the brain.
But your analogy is troubling, because it necessarily draws one to the conclusion that mind is something physical in substance. We can construct analogies of physical things that refer to "emergent" properties of those things, but direct comparisons to other material objects I think obscures the issue of "mind". The trouble with defining mind is a way to fully and properly define the role of perception of mind within the concept of mind (self-reference is tricky).
Neither is consciousness of the metaphysical merely a more complex form of understanding that doors can have X’s on them and still be doors. My cats would not be phased by the sudden presence of an X on a door. They would still scratch at it and meow to be let through! I don’t see what they’re doing as “leaps of faith,” such that when we believe in God we’re just making a bigger “leap of faith.” Naturalists would have us believe our need for meaning is simply a more complex form of that understanding that knows what a door is and what it’s used for.
I don't see the problem with the physical scenario you described, just the meaning given to it. One can also interpret such "leaps of faith" as accurately portraying something real So our perception of the mystical is real because we perceive it and because we perceive it it has an analogue in our brain. It's just another branch of self-reference.
But the need for meaning is something more than this. The need for meaning, the need for God, is the need for something we cannot create for ourselves (like a door). We know by common sense that this sort of thing is bigger than our ability to make it– that if we have to make it, it doesn’t really exist but is merely imagination. If our brains are, in fact, hard-wired to need a transcendent Source of meaning, and there is none– then we are of all creatures in the universe most to be pitied. We have evolved to need something that does not exist, something we cannot create for ourselves and still trust in it– something, in fact, that we can never truly have. No other creature that we know of suffers this fate. Animals need food, and there is food, they need to breathe, and there is air, they need to procreate, and there is sex. But we need God, meaning, transcendence– and there is none. How could this have happened?

I feel that the idea that just because we can pinpoint what happens in the brain when something stimulates it, means there is no external stimulus, is nonsense– as Metacrock said, the fact that parts of an animal’s brain light up when it smells food, doesn’t mean there’s no food to be smelled!
I go a step further - if we perceive it, it's real. The precise nature of the reality hasn't been fully described, but perception is reality and that is sufficient. God is real because I perceive God. The meaning of this reality is partially that which lends to my perception and partially that which is changed by it. Constant flux. Episodic.
I have always thought of madness as a state where the mind is separated, somehow, from reality– that the constructs we make in our minds of what reality is, no longer correspond with what is actually going on. If the metaphysical is not reality, if there is nothing actually there, but we are hardwired to construct it anyway– then evolution has in the end produced a species that is collectively and irrevocably mad.
kind of....this whole thing called perception is a hallucination.....but if the hallucination is all we have, then it is in some sense the most real thing we know. Madness is deviation from the norm.
The whole idea that we developed this way in order to help deal with the fact that we are able to understand and anticipate the finality of death– that’s just another way of saying that God is an explanation for something. We die, we want to not die and continue, so we create an afterlife, and a God to watch over it. That still doesn’t explain what the sense of the numinous is.
Exactly.
And it doesn't, in the end, prove Alper's point. If all our need for the spiritual is merely a coping reaction for awareness of death-- well, our minds are also capable of understanding that this might be all it is; that it might not be real. It seems to me that our minds developed the ability to doubt right along with the ability to believe. You would think evolution would resist this short-circuit of its coping mechanism, by hard-wiring us not to doubt, wouldn't you?
No. Being skeptical is a GREAT survival mechanism.

Peace,
-sgttomas
Prophet Muhammad (God send peace and blessings upon him) is reported to have said, "God says 'I am as My servant thinks I am' " ~ Sahih Al-Bukhari, Vol 9 #502 (Chapter 93, "Oneness of God")

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Re: check this out

Post by Metacrock » Tue Jun 03, 2008 8:48 am

why is it not Lamarkian to say this developed as a means of coping with death? After all it's a conceptual problem, not a physical one. Its' not like all the short hair musk oxen died out because the weather turned cold and thus Musk oxen developed a gene for long hair because the long hairs were fit for the environment. It's like saying we played the piano so much we developed a gene for it.
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Re: check this out

Post by sgttomas » Tue Jun 03, 2008 12:07 pm

Metacrock wrote:why is it not Lamarkian to say this developed as a means of coping with death? After all it's a conceptual problem, not a physical one. Its' not like all the short hair musk oxen died out because the weather turned cold and thus Musk oxen developed a gene for long hair because the long hairs were fit for the environment. It's like saying we played the piano so much we developed a gene for it.
heh, yeah I just thought I'd let that slide, but it's totally an inappropriate Darwinian statement. There is no rhyme or reason to gene succession, just mechanics. We didn't develop a god-coping mechanism for death. We have a god-thingy. It can help cope with death. That's it. ;)

-sgtt.
Prophet Muhammad (God send peace and blessings upon him) is reported to have said, "God says 'I am as My servant thinks I am' " ~ Sahih Al-Bukhari, Vol 9 #502 (Chapter 93, "Oneness of God")

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Re: check this out

Post by KR Wordgazer » Tue Jun 03, 2008 1:19 pm

Metacrock wrote:why is it not Lamarkian to say this developed as a means of coping with death? After all it's a conceptual problem, not a physical one. Its' not like all the short hair musk oxen died out because the weather turned cold and thus Musk oxen developed a gene for long hair because the long hairs were fit for the environment. It's like saying we played the piano so much we developed a gene for it.
sgttomas wrote:heh, yeah I just thought I'd let that slide, but it's totally an inappropriate Darwinian statement. There is no rhyme or reason to gene succession, just mechanics. We didn't develop a god-coping mechanism for death. We have a god-thingy. It can help cope with death. That's it.
Yes, that's what I was trying to say, I think. To say we developed spirituality as a means of coping with knowledge of our own deaths, is just a more sophisticated form of "we invented God to explain things we had no explanation for." Only now it adds, "and then our brains became hard-wired to continue to make such inventions." It doesn't make sense.

Someone please define "Lamarkian"? :)
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Re: check this out

Post by Metacrock » Tue Jun 03, 2008 2:08 pm

sgttomas wrote:
Metacrock wrote:why is it not Lamarkian to say this developed as a means of coping with death? After all it's a conceptual problem, not a physical one. Its' not like all the short hair musk oxen died out because the weather turned cold and thus Musk oxen developed a gene for long hair because the long hairs were fit for the environment. It's like saying we played the piano so much we developed a gene for it.
heh, yeah I just thought I'd let that slide, but it's totally an inappropriate Darwinian statement. There is no rhyme or reason to gene succession, just mechanics. We didn't develop a god-coping mechanism for death. We have a god-thingy. It can help cope with death. That's it. ;)

-sgtt.
that's what I thought. But Newberg makes that argument. So even the major researchers fall back on BS when stumped. Newberg is not looking to dismiss God. So he's just trying to find a way to make sense of it evolutionarily.
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Re: check this out

Post by KR Wordgazer » Tue Jun 03, 2008 2:26 pm

sgttomas wrote:
KR Wordgazer wrote:I don’t think “brain creates mind” in the sense that all mind is, is a construct of the brain, vanishing when the brain dies. The liver creates blood, but blood is a separate thing from the liver, not just a construct of the complexity of the liver. You can take blood out of the body and will still be blood– it will not vanish because the liver isn’t there any more. Even so with near-death experiences– brain activity ceases, but the person’s mind does not.

I’m not saying mind is a substance like blood is. But mind is more than just activity in the brain.
But your analogy is troubling, because it necessarily draws one to the conclusion that mind is something physical in substance. We can construct analogies of physical things that refer to "emergent" properties of those things, but direct comparisons to other material objects I think obscures the issue of "mind". The trouble with defining mind is a way to fully and properly define the role of perception of mind within the concept of mind (self-reference is tricky).
Yeah, I recognize that the analogy is not a very good one. But when we're talking about consciousness, and no one really knows what it is, what can you compare it to? There isn't really anything that compares to it.
Neither is consciousness of the metaphysical merely a more complex form of understanding that doors can have X’s on them and still be doors. My cats would not be phased by the sudden presence of an X on a door. They would still scratch at it and meow to be let through! I don’t see what they’re doing as “leaps of faith,” such that when we believe in God we’re just making a bigger “leap of faith.” Naturalists would have us believe our need for meaning is simply a more complex form of that understanding that knows what a door is and what it’s used for.
I don't see the problem with the physical scenario you described, just the meaning given to it. One can also interpret such "leaps of faith" as accurately portraying something real So our perception of the mystical is real because we perceive it and because we perceive it it has an analogue in our brain. It's just another branch of self-reference.
I think (as you said later in this thread), that our "god-thingy" is something else, something different, than our brain's ability to make sense of things. That was the point I was trying to make here, however unclearly it came across. :lol: To say it's just a more complex form of our brain's ability to understand the concept "door," is again to imply that all God is, is a reason we have invented to explain things we don't have answers for. I think our brains do look for pattern and meaning-- but God isn't just a big Pattern/Meaning we have superimposed on reality in order to make sense of it.

So that's why I take exception to calling our brain's propensity for finding pattern and meaning "little leaps of faith." The "leap of faith" I took at my conversion was a jump into the unknown, based on an Encounter I couldn't explain and still can hardly put into words. It was not an induction based on things I already knew, the way it is when I say, "Hmm, this door has an X on it, but it's still a door."
But the need for meaning is something more than this. The need for meaning, the need for God, is the need for something we cannot create for ourselves (like a door). We know by common sense that this sort of thing is bigger than our ability to make it– that if we have to make it, it doesn’t really exist but is merely imagination. If our brains are, in fact, hard-wired to need a transcendent Source of meaning, and there is none– then we are of all creatures in the universe most to be pitied. We have evolved to need something that does not exist, something we cannot create for ourselves and still trust in it– something, in fact, that we can never truly have. No other creature that we know of suffers this fate. Animals need food, and there is food, they need to breathe, and there is air, they need to procreate, and there is sex. But we need God, meaning, transcendence– and there is none. How could this have happened?

I feel that the idea that just because we can pinpoint what happens in the brain when something stimulates it, means there is no external stimulus, is nonsense– as Metacrock said, the fact that parts of an animal’s brain light up when it smells food, doesn’t mean there’s no food to be smelled!
I go a step further - if we perceive it, it's real. The precise nature of the reality hasn't been fully described, but perception is reality and that is sufficient. God is real because I perceive God. The meaning of this reality is partially that which lends to my perception and partially that which is changed by it. Constant flux. Episodic.
Hmm. Is it also true, then, that if I don't perceive it, it doesn't exist? Why, then, do we argue to anyone else that God actually does exist?
I have always thought of madness as a state where the mind is separated, somehow, from reality– that the constructs we make in our minds of what reality is, no longer correspond with what is actually going on. If the metaphysical is not reality, if there is nothing actually there, but we are hardwired to construct it anyway– then evolution has in the end produced a species that is collectively and irrevocably mad.
kind of....this whole thing called perception is a hallucination.....but if the hallucination is all we have, then it is in some sense the most real thing we know. Madness is deviation from the norm.
Not all deviation from the norm is madness. Einstein was definitely a deviation from the norm! I must continue to assert that madness does include this factor of dissassociation from the "real" that is actually there, even though all we can konw of it is our perception of it. When our perception gets grossly inaccurate compared to what actually is, and this is not a result of ignorance or misinformation but is actually a factor of something in the brain, then that's madness. So the brain being hard-wired to perceive transcendence when there is no such thing, is madness.

The "deviation from the norm" in madness lies in that part of how we know that what is actually out there meshes with our perceptions, is that others perceive the same things. But how if as a species, we were collectively mad? That's what this hard-wiring of our brains amounts to, in my mind, if there is no transcendence.


And it doesn't, in the end, prove Alper's point. If all our need for the spiritual is merely a coping reaction for awareness of death-- well, our minds are also capable of understanding that this might be all it is; that it might not be real. It seems to me that our minds developed the ability to doubt right along with the ability to believe. You would think evolution would resist this short-circuit of its coping mechanism, by hard-wiring us not to doubt, wouldn't you?
No. Being skeptical is a GREAT survival mechanism.
Well, I suppose you're right there. :)

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Re: check this out

Post by sgttomas » Wed Jun 04, 2008 12:27 am

KR Wordgazer wrote:Yeah, I recognize that the analogy is not a very good one. But when we're talking about consciousness, and no one really knows what it is, what can you compare it to? There isn't really anything that compares to it.
I think we can still approximate the experience within the experience. It's just very tricky.
I think (as you said later in this thread), that our "god-thingy" is something else, something different, than our brain's ability to make sense of things. That was the point I was trying to make here, however unclearly it came across. :lol: To say it's just a more complex form of our brain's ability to understand the concept "door," is again to imply that all God is, is a reason we have invented to explain things we don't have answers for. I think our brains do look for pattern and meaning-- but God isn't just a big Pattern/Meaning we have superimposed on reality in order to make sense of it.

So that's why I take exception to calling our brain's propensity for finding pattern and meaning "little leaps of faith." The "leap of faith" I took at my conversion was a jump into the unknown, based on an Encounter I couldn't explain and still can hardly put into words. It was not an induction based on things I already knew, the way it is when I say, "Hmm, this door has an X on it, but it's still a door."
Ah, gotcha. Makes sense.
Hmm. Is it also true, then, that if I don't perceive it, it doesn't exist?
I don't mean an individual's specific perception, but perception in total. If no one is aware of something, there literally is nothing. Existence is a moot point.
Why, then, do we argue to anyone else that God actually does exist?
I don't! Heh....well I think of it as explaining, or...translating what I experience into something tangible and sensible for the other person. There are often many barriers to understanding.
Not all deviation from the norm is madness. Einstein was definitely a deviation from the norm! I must continue to assert that madness does include this factor of dissassociation from the "real" that is actually there, even though all we can konw of it is our perception of it. When our perception gets grossly inaccurate compared to what actually is, and this is not a result of ignorance or misinformation but is actually a factor of something in the brain, then that's madness. So the brain being hard-wired to perceive transcendence when there is no such thing, is madness.

The "deviation from the norm" in madness lies in that part of how we know that what is actually out there meshes with our perceptions, is that others perceive the same things. But how if as a species, we were collectively mad? That's what this hard-wiring of our brains amounts to, in my mind, if there is no transcendence.
I think that's a pretty fair assessment.

Peace,
-sgttomas
Prophet Muhammad (God send peace and blessings upon him) is reported to have said, "God says 'I am as My servant thinks I am' " ~ Sahih Al-Bukhari, Vol 9 #502 (Chapter 93, "Oneness of God")

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